Karipiru (right), Awá tribesman, in the Caru Indigenous Territory, Brazil.
Credit: Scott Wallace/Getty Images

 Paul Hawken

Guardians of the Forest: It is increasingly evident that Indigenous cultures from the Amazon to Australia to Canada are the leaders in protecting forests and ecosystems worldwide. This piece from Yale 360 describes the extraordinary efforts being made by Indigenous communities in northern Canada in protecting “vast tracts of their lands” from extraction and deforestation. A recent article published in Nature, (Last Stand in the Amazon), details how Indigenous and protected lands now comprise 47% of the Amazon basin rainforests. The goal is 80%. Worldwide support is crucial.

 Amy Boyer

COP27 and Climate Reparations: As COP27 begins, climate finance and climate justice are in the spotlight. Although wealthy nations are responsible for much of the damage due to climate change, they are behind on many of their own pledges to fund climate adaptation in poorer countries that often bear the brunt of climate impacts. Much of climate finance rests on debt, which tends to flow to the most affected, cash-strapped countries, tying up even more of their money. Pakistan has called for climate reparations to help them recover from this year's floods, which devastated crops and infrastructure across the country. Thinking of climate reparations in terms of an effort to build a just world in which impacted countries can rebuild may provide a way forward. There are a number of ways to make a start, including grants and debt relief, dismantling tax havens, redirecting investment, and true energy democracy.

 Benjamin Felser

Healing Human-Wildlife Conflict in Kashmir: A recent short film highlights Northern Kashmir’s Wildlife Department and Wildlife SOS’s efforts to heal the raw wounds engendered by human-wildlife conflict. Grounded by the story of a mother who saved her daughter from a leopard attack, it explores the complex eco-social terrain of forest fragmentation: the true cause of increased incidents. When people encroach on forests, fragmentation squeezes large mammals into any semi-forested spaces. The expansion of lucrative apple orchards over what used to be rice paddies (i.e. bad habitat) and forests creates dangerous spaces for conflicts to occur. Based in Nepal currently, this story was an inspiring alternative to the callous measures the Nepali Wildlife Department has taken in response to its own uptick in wildlife conflict post-COVID. In the face of immense tragedies, it was heartening to see local governments and NGOs coupling environmentalism with community care.

 Claire Krummenacher

Creative Disaster Adaptation in NYC: In the coming years, the New York City Housing Authority will utilize public housing architecture to create reservoirs that will capture excess water from both routine storm drain flooding and disasters like Hurricane Ida, which deluged the city's inland neighborhoods with 10 inches of rain (including 3 in a single hour) in 2021. The first step will be retrofitting basketball courts at South Jamaica Houses by sinking them several feet into the ground and adding tiers of benches on either side to absorb water that would otherwise inundate streets and courtyards, with similar "water squares" and underground basins slated to follow at nearby developments. In addition to preventing future flooding damage to residents' homes, the retrofits will reduce the burden on nearby neighborhoods' storm drain systems by preventing water from flowing out onto nearby streets.

 Courtney White

Allied Against Desertification: COP 27 in Egypt on Monday saw the debut of the International Drought Resilience Alliance, co-led by Senegal and Spain, which has pledged 5 million Euros to launch the Alliance. The goal is to help countries suffering from desertification move from crisis management to long-term resilience strategies. Quickly! According to the IPCC, over 40 percent of land globally is threatened by desertification, affecting two billion people. It joins another global partnership called the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), which helps countries address water security issues under climate change. One of their projects is a Water Tracker for climate planning. These efforts build on past collaborative work that remains incomplete, such as the Great Green Wall of Africa. A shortage of funds is a major obstacle for many projects in developing nations. One highly effective solution that needs money is agroforestry, as this Mongabay story explains. Finance is on the agenda for COP 27 – let’s hope there’s some real action!

 Juliana Birnbaum

Pioneering All-Electric Community in the Golden State: I spent years researching ecovillages and wrote a book about them published in 2014, so I got very "charged up" to hear about the first all-electric, solar, and battery microgrid-powered community being built in my home state of California.  This group of more than 200 homes will have the capability to charge an electric vehicle and will be connected to a local microgrid powered by one shared battery, very useful to protect the energy supply in case of an outage (in my region, our provider PG&E, whose equipment has been linked to several mega fires in the past decade, turned off our power for 5 days in 2019 due to heightened fire danger).  About one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from residential use of fossil fuels, and by electrifying everything, we can meet the same needs more efficiently and safely, and with a far lighter carbon footprint.

 Kate Furby

Beans!: Back to my favorite topic this week, food. I first learned about some of our future food options, with an emphasis on the regenerative potential of beans specifically, while making a podcast about the future of food. Now with COP27 well on its way, a deep evaluation of climate and food systems has been happening. A new report out from a sustainability taskforce is emphasizing the need for speed on climate innovations and a change in the way we farm. The Innovation Hub at the COP is designed to help "promote transformative climate solutions," and in preparation, over the summer, a group met to talk about the health and agricultural benefits of diversifying our bean portfolio, part of a Beans Planning Meeting (yes, you heard that right). And if you're feeling inspired, I recommend this article on global bean recipes.

 Kavya Gopal

The TikTok Farming Generation: Farmers in the Philippines are an aging workforce, with the average farmer aged 53. Young people are actively discouraged from pursuing agricultural work, a trend that could result in the country facing a critical shortage of farmers in the next 12 years. In August, Congress filed a bill that sought to add an agricultural syllabus to the high school curriculum, in the hope of growing young people’s interest in farming. But changing hearts and minds is tough work, and policies take years to trickle down into everyday society. Luckily, youth-led non-profits such as Kids Who Farm and TikTokers like UrbanFarmerTV are leading the way with accessible entry points into regenerative farming. In just three years, Kids Who Farm has established 39 community food gardens and trained nearly 3,000 young people in sustainable farming. Tiktoker, Bea Suavengco (@urbanfarmertv) reaches more than 88,000 followers, and is dedicated to producing content on hydroponic farming to “champion a new narrative so that we can inspire more youth to consider a career in agriculture.”

 Nick Obradovich

A Daily Diet of Plastic: Scientists recently estimated that blue whales consume on the order of 100 pounds (~45kg) of microplastic material daily. That adds up to a large blue whale eating approximately 1 billion particles of microplastics per day. Blue whales are large animals—the largest—but that's still an astounding and terrible amount of plastic for any species to be consuming. Fortunately, there are efforts underway to reduce the amount of plastic pollution whales—and the rest of us—are exposed to. The best option is to eliminate single-use plastics. But for the need that remains, an example of these design efforts is the Cove water bottle, which is an attempt at producing a (surprisingly challenging) "fully biodegradable water bottle." Every little bit helps.

 Robert Denney

Gardens in English Estates Adapting to Climate Change: A recent New York Times article tells the story of Oxburgh Hall, a historic English estate with a garden (the “Parterre”) dating back to the 17th century. The garden has recently been facing distress because of droughts, downpours, and heat waves linked to climate change. In response, the estate’s gardeners are experimenting with new plants that will withstand harsh climatic conditions but still maintain the site’s historic charm for visitors. For one, a native sedum (a flowering succulent-like plant) was planted last year, and when in bloom this August the area was humming with bees for weeks. The garden is also considering a larger shift from annuals to perennials, which will protect the soil in the winter and act as a carbon sink. 

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